The following comes from a September 17 Mercury News article by Tracy Seipel:

For 78-year-old Judy Dale, this wasn’t the way California’s new aid-in-dying law was supposed to work.

The San Francisco grandmother, her body riddled with cancer, had hoped to die on her own terms when the time came by ingesting lethal medications prescribed by a physician. But the panic-filled weeks she spent this summer trying to find a doctor — any doctor — willing to participate in the state’s End of Life Option Act were running out.

By the time she located one, it was too late, and when Dale drew her final breath Tuesday morning, it was not the kind of death she — or her family — had envisioned.

“She did not want to die that way, too confused to say goodbye,’’ said daughter Catherine Dale, crying over the memory of her bedridden mother begging daily to know how much longer she would have to wait for “the die medicine.’’

It’s a scene being played out throughout California, as scores of terminally ill patients are learning to their dismay — and outrage — that the state’s new aid-in-dying law comes with no guarantee of finding a doctor.

“What does this law mean in California?’’ asked Catherine Dale, still seething over the circumstances at UC San Francisco Medical Center that left her mother scrambling at the last minute to find a physician.

“The law, to me, means you still need to go to Oregon.’’

Dr. Lonny Shavelson is a Berkeley-based physician who recently established a practice devoted solely to evaluate patients who might meet the requirements of the new law: They must be an adult, a state resident, mentally competent and have a terminal diagnosis of at most six months to live, confirmed by two licensed physicians. People suffering from dementia of Alzheimer’s disease cannot qualify.

Shavelson said he is alarmed at the number of Californians who cannot find a doctor to assist them with the law.

“There are dozens literally who want that type of death who cannot access this law,’’ Shavelson said. “And I have the data to prove it.’’

On his computer, the doctor is building a detailed list of dozens of patients who have contacted him from around the state — all of them seeking prescribing physicians to begin the process. By Friday, the list had grown to more than 100 names.

Without being specific, Shavelson said some have died before they could receive the drugs, and others have died after successfully ingesting the medication.

Marti in Sutter County was on that list. The 74-year-old grandmother with liver cancer also died last Tuesday, less than eight hours after Judy Dale.

But Marti had managed — barely — to do what Dale could not: determine her own end by swallowing the lethal prescription afforded her under the new law.

Yet the weeks that her grown children spent searching for a doctor to help had almost ended her chance, said one of her adult sons, who asked not to be named and that his mother’s last name not be used because relatives are unaware of his mother’s decision.

“It was disappointing that she was not able to do this when she wanted to, when she was feeling stronger,’’ said the son, who with two other siblings watched as their weakened mother lay back in her favorite green recliner and drank her medication — within the prescribed two minutes — then quickly fell asleep, her heart stopping within an hour.

“But with all the bureaucracy,” her son said, “it took a lot more time than we thought to find someone who would help.’’